Chinese American, born and raised in Boston, live and work in New York. I like thick-skinned dumplings, flip flops, baseball, and sour gummy worms. I write about things, sometimes snarkily. I review things, sometimes with opinions. And I do the Twitter thing @lilyvwong
Shanthi Sekaran’s novel Lucky Boy is the bewitching story of two mothers and their love and expectations for themselves and the one boy each calls their own. Young Solimar Castro Valdez braves the border crossing in pursuit of a better life in California. In the turmoil of the experience, she finds love. At the end of it, she’ll be expecting. Kavya Reddy, already married several years to her husband Rishi, is looking for the next step […] Continue »
Tell Me Everything You Don’t Remember: The Stroke That Changed My Life by Christine Hyung-Oak Lee is a compelling memoir about the author’s reinvention after a life-changing stroke at the age of 33. Eloquently written, Lee guides readers through the trauma of her stroke while interweaving honest self-reflection during a period in which she was in many ways, not herself, through to her evolution as a writer and a newly defined sense of self. It can […] Continue »
Viet Thanh Nguyen’s newest book, The Refugees, is a luminous collection of eight short stories that takes piercingly intimate looks at the lives of refugees, of those caught between worlds, of those caught in a moment. The Pulitzer Prize winning author’s recent books included The Sympathizer, a wry novel about a spy, and Nothing Ever Dies, an academic and philosophical look at historical memory, power, and the Vietnam War. The Refugees is nothing like these two. I should not say […] Continue »
Flying Lessons & Other Stories, edited by Ellen Oh, is a delightful and engaging collection of short stories from such luminaries as Grace Lin, Kwame Alexander, and Walter Dean Myers. The book emerged out of the ever-important We Need Diverse Books campaign, a pretty straight forward plea. Their mission? “Putting more books featuring diverse characters into the hands of all children.” Their vision? “A world in which all children can see themselves in the pages of […] Continue »
Chow Chop Suey: Food and the Chinese American Journey joins the circle of books traversing the history of Chinese food in the United States, specifically the peculiar beast that is chop suey. Mendelson takes a historical journey into its origins, as a food consciously produced for a white audience during a time of Exclusion, and into the expansion of Chinese food in the United States beyond that. Her volume joins a growing bookshelf, including Jennifer […] Continue »
Sonya Chung’s newest novel The Loved Ones is an intense look into love, loss, guilt, and reconciliation. Two families who share a last name find their lives intersecting. Charles Lee is the African American father in a biracial family. Hannah Lee is the daughter of Korean immigrants who babysits for his children and is present when a devastating event strikes the family. But The Loved Ones is not a simple linear tale, but rather jumps through time exploring inter-generational experiences […] Continue »
Haruki Murakami’s latest book, Absolutely on Music: Conversations is a deep dive into the world of classical music with his friend, famed classical music conductor Seiji Ozawa. As the title implies, rather than a traditional prose book, this one is a quite literally a compilation and transcript of their conversations. The two men dive deep into Ozawa’s discography and storied career as a conductor of numerous prominent orchestras. Murakami, a long-time fan of both classical music […] Continue »
The Boat Rocker, the latest novel from author Ha Jin, follows a journalist Feng Danlin as he becomes immersed in one particularly outrageous story. Danlin, the book’s narrator, works for a Chinese newspaper located in New York, and is assigned a story about his ex-wife Haili. His articles begin reporting on suspicions about the hype being bred around Haili’s forthcoming novel–that they are all exploitative lies. As the narrative unfolds, it centers around both their personal […] Continue »
Wendy Lee’s latest novel, The Art of Confidence, takes readers through the tale of a single forgery, its making and unmaking. Liu Qingwu is a poor artist hawking goods outside the Met in New York City, when he’s approached by a Chelsea dealer to recreate a work. Little does he know her motivations (to save her aunt’s gallery) or her intended price ($2 million). All he knows is that it is a job, and he long […] Continue »
Bad Girls Throughout History by Ann Shen is the book you need right now, a walk through a diverse array of bad ass women across time and across continents. Subtitled “100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World,” this beautifully illustrated volume contains short profiles of women you know — Joan of Arc, Billie Holiday — and women you probably don’t — Khutulan, Junko Tabei. Each is entertainingly and accessibly written. I speak only for myself […] Continue »
The Story of a Brief Marriage by Anuk Arudpragasam is a moving and intimate portrait of a man caught up in Sri Lanka’s civil war. Set in and around a refugee camp, this debut novel offers a peek into just a few short days of Dinesh’s life. Arudpragasm delves deep into this one man’s thought process, drawing it out in eloquent and elegant prose. Moments that take but a few seconds traverse multiple pages, yet the book does not feel […] Continue »
The Cambodian Dancer: Sophany’s Gift of Hope is a beautiful children’s picture book about a young Cambodian girl forced to leave her country who finds strength in traditional dance steps. The illustrations are well-done and in a style that matches the spirit of the book’s title character Sophany. Though not written by a Cambodian, it is based on the true story of a friend of the author. As to be expected, the book only lightly touches […] Continue »
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